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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Diaz-Canel speaks with researchers and experts on new Cuban vaccine candidate

Havana, Oct 21 - Cuba has a second vaccine candidate against Covid-19, Soberana 2, which follows the path of hopes traced by Soberana 1, waiting for the Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices to authorize its clinical trials in the coming days.

This was confirmed by Doctor of Science Vicente Vérez Bencomo, general director of the Finlay Vaccine Institute, in the meeting that took place this Tuesday at the Palace of the Revolution between the President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, and researchers and experts who work directly in confronting the epidemic.     

This is a conjugate vaccine, said the project leader, which is committed to inducing a powerful immune-protective response, even at the mucosal level to prevent the entry of the virus; and stimulate a long-lasting immune memory. "It is also the ideal vaccine for pediatric age because there is a very great experience in the use of conjugate vaccines at these ages," stressed Vérez Bencomo.    

As he had detailed in an interview with the Granma newspaper, the novelty of Soberana 2 consists precisely "in being a conjugate vaccine, in which the virus antigen, the receptor-binding domain (RBD), is chemically bound to the tetanus toxoid."

We are ready, he said, to begin a phase one clinical trial, initially, perhaps within this month of October. “There is evidence of safety in conjugate vaccine platforms, which we also master very well. Technologically it was complex to get there, but we got there very well and in record time, "he said.

"We have a very well-defined conjugate vaccine, with a very good technology and we are willing to start to see what happens in humans, because in animals we know that it works very well."

The researcher highlighted, “until today there is no conjugate vaccine against Covid-19 published; we have all the studies completed to be able to make that publication”.

In the meeting - where Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz also participated - the director of the Finlay Vaccine Institute also made an update on Soberana 1.    

He recalled that they worked initially with two formulations, which had given good results in animals. "But it has been seen that in what happens in humans with respect to animals, there is a difference between the antibodies that are achieved and their neutralizing capacity."

Faced with this situation and the risk that we could have of not achieving the immune response we wanted, we decided that it made no sense to go with only two formulations, but that we should analyze the entire spectrum of formulations to select the best one and move forward with it. Therefore, he clarified, we have three new formulations and that was the second clinical trial of Soberana 1 that was authorized and was published in the Public Registry. It started this Monday, he said, with 60 people. (Cuban Presidency) (Photo: Revolution Studies)